Gazing into abyss, transport industry seeks PM Modi’s intervention

Mumbai: The pandemic has left the transport industry staring the abyss and so its national transport body has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene. The crux of the matter lies in repaying of hundreds of crores of loan amount that private bus operators owe the banks and other financial institutions. Now, in the coming week, a high-level meeting will be held to sort this issue out and save the businesses of private bus and car operators. This comes at a time when on March 11, the government has given relief as far as paying inter-state taxes are concerned.

To begin with, the banks and financial institutions are asking them to start repaying to meet up their targets for this financial year ending. There are 15 lakh buses and 11 lakh tourist cabs that are part of Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI). Sources said that of these, around 10 lakh or so buses and 5 lakh tourist cabs owe monthly vehicle loans of Rs 50,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively to these financial institutions.

“The banks are asking us to make repayments as far as possible by March 31. But the fact is that the businesses have not actually picked up. Plus with Covid-19 turning up its ugly head again, we actually don’t know how revenues could be generated. Of the total, more than 70% of bus operators are struggling to restart their business,” said a member of BOCI.

“The Co-Operative Banks has neither given financial help except moratorium, nor provided Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (government declared it in November 2020). We request the RBI to give proper direction to Co-Operative Banks to come forward and help bus operators by giving benefits under ECLGS’, the letter the PMO pointed out.

The bus operators also want to restructure tenure of repayment to up to 3 years depending on the life of vehicles. Delay payment charges of 3% be waived up to March 2022 or percentage be reduced.

‘The business owners have the intention to repay the loans in time but were helpless due to worst cash crunch of all times for reasons explained,’ stated another point mentioned.

Meanwhile, the revised interstate taxes that buses have to pay to travel to other states have been revised at Rs 25000 to Rs 3 lakh for AC buses having seats of less than 9 or over 23 seats. And likewise for non-AC buses it will be Rs 15000 to Rs 2 lakh for the same seating. “As of now, we pay monthly taxes to state governments but now seamless travel is possible with annual payment,” said a Bus operator.

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